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Turkeys interest to develop relations with Africa is highly interesting and a
relatively new development in Turkish foreign policy. Although it has started
in 1998, its implementation in a coherent and sophisticated manner took
place since the AKP came in power in 2002. Currently, both Turkey and African countries benefits from this relation in not only in economic and political
terms, but also Africa gains aid, investment and humanitarian assistance.
In Turkey, a new Africa conception is under way that sees Africa as a full
partner in political and economic issues. Developing and intensifying ties with
African countries is likely to continue in future as it is supported widely by civil
society in Turkey.

Mehmet zkan*

* Mehmet zkan is a PhD Candidate at Sevilla University, Spain.

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ntil recently, Africa did not feature much in the Turkish foreign policy
agenda. Turkey announced 2005 as the year of Africa, and in 2008
the first ever Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit in Istanbul with the
participation of representatives from fifty African countries. Again in
2008, Turkeys then-Foreign Minister Ali Babacan declared that Africa has a special importance to Turkey within the context of Turkeys new foreign policy, and
thus it was decided to open 15 new embassies in Africa within the next few years.1
Since then, a reorientation of Turkish foreign policy toward Africa has taken shape
and become steadily more visible publicly as well.
Turkeys new engagement with Africa in terms of economic and political developments is more than just another country making inroads to Africa. Although Turks
have a relatively long history of involvement in Africa, the new engagement is proactive and has borne fruit in a very short amount of time, particularly in terms of
economic indicators. Although Ankaras first serious interest in Africa dates back
to 1998, the effort became more evident only after the AKP (Justice and Development Party) assumed power in 2002. The big share of interest in intensifying
Turkeys relations went to Africa due to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan and
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolus continued efforts to develop relations with
countries previously neglected by Ankara. Until ten years ago, Africa was known
in Turkey through TV images of hunger, poverty and conflict whereas today it is
regarded as a continent of hope, as well as a potential economic and political
partner.
Relevance of Perceptional/Historical Legacy
One can speak of two distinct Turkish conceptions of Africa based on a geographical divide: North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Both conceptions have
been shaped in the Turkish psyche by historical developments mainly from the
Ottoman times. This background has been articulated in classical Turkish foreign
policy toward the continent. Historically, Turkey has had relatively strong relations
with North Africa, as it was a part of the Ottoman State dating back to 15th and
16th centuries. On the other hand, relations with Sub-Saharan Africa are a more
recent development, dating back to the 19th century.
North Africa is familiar to the Turkish society for two main reasons: First, Muslim
populations of North African states and their close historical connection with the
Ottomans created an understanding that North Africa is part of the Turkish periphery. Developing political and economic relations with North Africa has never been
1
Ali Babacans speech to the group of African countries, New York, 24 July 2008, <http://africa.mfa.gov.tr/speech-by-h_e_-babacato-the-group-of-african-countries-at-the-un_-24-july-2008.en.mfa

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questioned but seen as an essential part of diversifying Turkish foreign policy.


Second, North Africa is considered part of the broader Middle East an area that
Turkish society feels close to.
As Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical area has always been considered as a
far away land, full of problems, hunger, diseases and civil wars; its history did not
call any attention in academia or policy-making circles. However, since the official
celebration in 1999 of the 700th year of the establishment of the Ottoman State,
researchers have started to pay attention to areas of the Ottoman past that have
since been neglected, such as Africa. Nevertheless, the persistent negative image
of Sub-Sahara did not change until the recent efforts of both the AKP government
and civil society organizations.2 It is important to note here that when Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan visited Ethiopia and South Africa in March
2005 (as the first prime minister of the republican era to officially visit a state below
the equator), many Turkish columnists, retired diplomats and representatives of
mainstream media criticized the visit, asserting that it was wasting Turkeys limited
energy in vain.3 Now however, this view of Sub-Sahara seems to be changing
even in the minds of ardent critics.
Bearing in mind these two differing attitudes to Africas two geographical regions,
one can divide Turkeys relations with Africa into three periods. The first period
covers the Ottoman States relations with Africa until the establishment of Turkish
Republic in 1923, during which Ottomans had considerable relations with Africa.
The years from 1923 to 1998 can be seen as the second period where TurkishAfrican relations were at the lowest level, if existing at all. After 1998, with the acceptance of the Africa Action Plan, Turkeys interest in Africa has been gradually
revived, reaching a peak level after 2005.4
With regard to the first period, the Ottoman State had considerable relations with
North Africa aided by the fact that African states such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria were totally or partially subject to Ottoman rule. The Ottomans
also played an important role to prevent Spanish incursions in North Africa, as
they sent their emissaries when needed. In Sub-Saharan Africa, too, some African
countries were partially included in the Ottoman State, such as Sudan, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and even Niger and Chad. During the wave of colonialism, the Ottoman State was active in eastern Africa, attempting to balance Portuguese penetration. In northern Sub-Sahara, the Ottomans were also part of the
2
Mehmet zkan and Birol Akgn, Turkeys Opening to Africa, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 48 No.4, 2010, pp.
525-546.
3
zdem Sanberk, Gl dneminde Trk d politikas [Turkish Foreign Policy Under Gl], Radikal, 21 August 2007, Asl Aydntaba,
Etiyopya m? [Ethiopia ?], Sabah, 3 March 2005.
4
Mehmet zkan, Turkey Discovers Africa: Implications and Prospects, SETA Policy Brief, No. 22, 2008.

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balance of powers system, having friendship and alliance with the Kanem Burnu
Empire, which prevailed in todays Northern Nigeria, Niger and Chad. The Kanem
Burnu Empire even signed a defence pact in 1575 with the Ottoman State during
the time of Sultan Murad III, upon which the Sultan sent military equipment and
trainers to Kanem Burnu.5
In 1894 after the first mosque was built in Lagos, the Ottoman State sent a special
emissary to Nigeria conferring the staff of office, the decoration of the Order of
Medjidie6 as well as the title of Bey, a higher civilian rank in the Ottoman State, to
the leader of the Southern Nigerias Muslim Community, Mohammed Shitta Bey.
The Shitta Bey family is a large family and presently has several members playing
an important role in Nigerian social and political life.7
Ottomans had diplomatic representation in Southern Africa from 1861 onwards.
The appointment of the first honorary consul-general in Cape Town PE de Roubaix on 18 February 1861, followed with a series of honorary consul-general appointments in subsequent years. This was the case until the first Turkish diplomat,
Mehmet Remzi Bey (who was stationed in South Africa on 21 April 1914), passed
away on 14 February 1916.8
Adding a religious dimension to these relations, the Ottoman State also sent
imams to the Muslims of the Cape of Good Hope (now in South Africa) in 1863,
via honorary Consul-General de Roubaix, upon the request of the Muslim community. With the arrival of Abu Bakr Effendi as imam, a strong bridge was built
between the Muslims of the Cape of Good Hope and the Ottoman State, due to
his contribution to South Africa. As a sign of this, the Muslims of South Africa had
actively participated in the Hijaz railway construction campaigns and raised funds.
After the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey-Africa relations
were downgraded to the lowest level. This was due to the domestic situations of
both sides, such as establishing the new state structure and securing the independence, as well as colonialism. During Cold War years, Turkey started to attach
greater importance to Africa, developing relations with North African states economically and politically. However, these relations were shaped by the conditions
of the Cold-War bipolarity, and thus at times were at odds with the historical public sentiment toward the continent. When Ghana became independent in 1957,
Numan Hazar, The Future of Turkish-African Relations, D Politika, Vol. 25 No.3-4, 2000, pp. 109-110.
Order of Medjidie is the name of a military and knightly order of the Ottoman State, which was often conferred on non-Turkish
nationals upon their distinguishing service/help to Ottomans.
7
Ibid, p. 110.
8
Serhat Orak, The Emerging Links between the Ottoman Empire and South Africa, International Journal of Turkish Studies, Vol. 14
No. 1-2, 2008, pp. 47-60.
5
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Turkey recognized Ghana and opened


a resident embassy at a later stage.
With the decolonization process in AfAlthough Turks have a
rica having begun in the late 1950s and
relatively long history of
early 1960s, Turkey recognized all the
newly independent countries, estabinvolvement in Africa, the new
lished diplomatic relations, and opened
resident embassies in a number of engagement is proactive and
them. However this was not based on
has borne fruit in a very short
any significant long-term relationship
amount of time, particularly
and Turkey was not seriously involved
9
in African affairs. However, one should
in terms of economic
note that since the 1970s, Turkeys
indicators.
relationship with North African countries has been strengthened, albeit in a
limited way, due to Turkeys efforts to
diversify its economic and political relations. In spite of this development, Sub-Saharan Africa did not gain a position of
special importance within the Turkish foreign policy of the time. the only exception
was Turkeys minor role in the independence of Namibia and Zimbabwe.
When the decolonization process unveiled in Africa, Turkey missed the opportunity to develop permanent political, economic and commercial relations with Africa, although it had designed an opening plan in the 1970s as part of an attempt
in diversifying its foreign policy. The plan was tabled due to the conflict in Cyprus
issue, which left Turkey in a difficult position in its interactions with its Western allies. Although the lack of action in regards to establishing stronger relations with
Africa could be seen partly as a result of other issues persisting on the Turkish
agenda of the time, the main reason was lack of Turkeys interest, knowledge and
strategy about what to do in Africa. Turkeys opening up to Africa came only in the
late 1990s, with the Africa Action Plan adopted in 1998. This opening has been
taken very seriously, especially by the AKP government, and has been supported
by various civil society organizations in Turkey. What is different and unique in
this new orientation of Turkish foreign policy is that it aims to overcome the two
previously outlined, geographical conceptions of Africa, in order to create a new
and united image of Africa in Turkish society. Underlying this point, when Africa
is debated, neither a special treatment to North Africa nor a negative image of
Sub-Sahara persists. Turkey seems to be rediscovering Africa as a whole, while
businessmen and politicians are busy developing strong connections with Africa.

Numan Hazar, The Future of Turkish-African Relations, D Politika, Vol. 25 No.3-4, 2000, pp. 109-110.

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Anatomy of Turkeys Soft Power in Africa



The Turkish opening to Africa has been an intensive attempt to revitalize relations
in several ways. On the one hand, Turkey has increased its financial aid to Africa
both through international agencies and its own official aid and cooperation agency - TIKA. On the other hand, Turkey announced 2005 as the year of Africa, and
hosted the first Turkey-Africa Summit at Istanbul in 2008, and opening eight new
embassies in 2009 increasing the total number of Turkish resident embassies in
Africa to 20. In their discourse on the opening to Africa, Turkish officials have usually emphasized increasing trade relations with Africa and economic development.
However, Africa has only recently reciprocated interest in developing relations with
Turkey. The scope of relations may be categorized in three sections: from humanitarian aid, economic relations and the African response. The response from the
African side, by and large, has been a mixture of confusion and hope. Whether
African interest and Turkish eagerness will converge is an important issue that will
define the future of Turkeys opening to Africa.
Humanitarian Aid and Politics
In the last decade, aid has been one of the stronger elements in Turkeys overall
foreign policy in general and its Africa policy in particular. It has been part of soft
power strategy. The official Turkish aid agency, the Cooperation and Development
Administration of Turkey (TIKA), currently operates in Africa through three offices
located in Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Dakar, as part of Turkeys development
aid to Africa.
TIKA was initially established to help the transition of states in Central Asia, the
Caucasus and the Balkans. However, after 2003, it transformed into a more global
aid agency, expanding its areas of operation. One of the regions that this expansion has covered is Africa. Through offices in the continent, Turkey aims to widen
cooperation with Africa, and currently its three regional offices implement projects
in 37 African countries. Turkey has also promised to provide technical assistance
to African countries through TIKA and strives to open an affiliate office in other
African countries to further cement cooperation with Africa on the basis of several
priorities. President Gl marked these priorities to be: health, education, agriculture, environment, infrastructure and capacity-building.10
Besides the activities of TIKA, Turkey has also utilized international organizations to
provide aid to Africa. For example, through the World Health Organization (WHO),
10
Abdullah Gl, Africas development needs: State of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward, Remarks by President of Turkey in New York, 22 September 2008, <http://www.un.org/ga/president/62/ThematicDebates/adn/turkey.pdf

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World Food Programme (WFP) and the Red Crescent, Turkey has donated 7.5
million dollars to various African countries in last 5 years, to assist them in coping
with the negative effects of drought and other natural disasters. In 2008, Turkey
allocated 3.5 million dollars of humanitarian aid through the WFP, while in 2009
it made a modest donation of 0.5 million dollars to the African Union budget. In
a similar vein, in 2007 Turkey hosted for the first time a summit of the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, 33 out of 49 of which are located in Africa. In this
summit, Turkey committed 20 million dollars of development aid for these countries use. Turkey will also be hosting the fourth conference on Least Developed
Countries in the first half of 2011.
In the last several years, Africa has forged new partnerships and renewed existing
ones with several countries, as part of conglomerate economic and political entities or even on a bilateral basis. Such strategic partnerships entered enforcement
under the ACP-EU, and in the form of cooperation with individual countries such
as China, Japan, Brazil and India. The Turkey-Africa partnership may be seen as
the latest strategic link. The first Turkey-Africa Cooperation summit was held under the theme Solidarity and Partnership for a Common Future from 18 August
- 21 August 2008, in Istanbul. The summit is considered by many as a success,
in terms of Turkish-African economic relations. It has achieved several concrete
results, including a decision that the next summit is to be held in an African country
in 2013.
The summit brought together the leaders and representatives from 50 memberstates of the African Union with the absence of Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. The AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, representatives of some 11
international organizations, and hundreds from business communities were also
present. The summit concluded by adopting two documents: The Istanbul Declaration and the Turkey-Africa Partnership Framework Document, which were
prepared by senior experts and ministers. The framework document reads: Acknowledging the critical role that Trade and Investment should play within the
framework of this partnership as agents of development...and we pledge to create
a favourable legal and stimulating business environment for economic cooperation
as a central pillar of the Africa-Turkey Partnership.11
The immediate objective of the summit was two-fold. First, as part of Turkeys serious effort to expand ties and increase trade volume with the African continent, it
was a venue through which Turkey could prove its seriousness. It seems that Turkey convinced African leaders; a joint decision was announced at the end of the
11
Framework of Cooperation for Africa, ISS Resource Center, 19 August 2008,http://www.iss.org.za/uploads/TURKEYAFRIFRAMEAUG08.PDF, p. 1-2

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summit that the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB)
and the Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Professions (UACCIAP) would cooperate to establish the Turkish-African Chamber
for furthering commercial relations. Turkeys second immediate aim was to gain
the support of African nations in its bid to be a non-permanent member of the
UN Security Council in 2009-2010. Turkey was also successful in this goal: the
election in September 2008 held by the UN General Assembly resulted in Turkey
receiving 151 votes.
One of the most discussed but less understood areas in Turkey relations with Africa has been Ankaras approach to Darfur. Turkeys approach to Darfur has been
subject to criticism by analysts and human rights groups as contradictory and
holding a double standard. However,
Turkeys distinctive foreign policy approach to Darfur requires a closer and
in-depth analysis. It should be viewed
When the decolonization
within the context of Turkeys changing
process unveiled in Africa,
role in regional and global affairs. TurTurkey missed the opportunity key has not aligned itself with the Western position of criticizing the Sudanese
to develop permanent
government and its leader Omar al-Bashir by describing the conflict in Darfur
political, economic and
as genocide. However, Turkey has
commercial relations with
also not ignored the developments and
Africa, although it had
human tragedy that occurred, in its official dealings with the Sudan. Ankaras
designed an opening plan
policy on Darfur is basically a strategy
in the 1970s as part of an
of passive quiet diplomacy and constructive engagement, supported by its
attempt in diversifying its
developing economic and political ties
foreign policy.
with the Sudan. It has also been constrained by international and regional
involvements.12
Trade and Institutional Cooperation
Nothing can summarize the remarkable change of Turkey-Africa relations better
than the increasing trade and institutional cooperation between the two. The year
2005 was a turning point in Turkeys relations with Africa. Turkey obtained observer
12
For a detailed discussion on Ankaras policy and approach to Darfur see, Mehmet zkan and Birol Akgn, Turkeys Darfur Policy:
Convergences and Differentiations from the Muslim World, Insight Turkey, Vol. 12 No. 4, 2010, pp. 147-165.

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status in the African Union in 2005, which declared Turkey a strategic partner in
January 2008. In May 2008, Turkey joined the African Development Bank and
has strengthened relations with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development
in East Africa and the Economic Community of West African States. The Foreign
Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) has established eight Business Councils as part of Ankaras attempts to increase business activities with Africa. Turkish
business councils are operating in Ethiopia, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, South
Africa, Sudan and Tunisia. To accelerate these relations further, in 2008, Turkey
decided to open 15 new embassies in Africa, in addition to the 12 it already had
on the continent, more than doubling the density of its diplomatic representation in
Africa. In 2009, Turkey appointed eight new ambassadors responsible for opening
embassies in their designated countries and starting to work as soon as possible.
Currently, legal procedures have been completed for opening three new embassies and seven others are under consideration and negotiations. Once all of them
are completed, Turkey will have 30 embassies in Africa.
While these developments at the political and institutional level are important, the
Turkish opening to Africa is underscored by soaring bilateral trade. Turkeys trade
volume with African countries was only 5.4 billion dollars in 2003, and it increased
more than twofold, exceeding 16 billion dollars in 2008. Despite the world economic crisis, it did not lose its pace, numbering around 16 billion dollars in 2009
(Table 1). Yet, in comparison to Turkeys total trade volume with other regions in
the world, its current trade volume with African countries is not significant. However, it is enough to get the attention of other outside players in Africa. For example in November 2010, France announced its interest to team up with Turkey for
joint European trade missions in Africa, to counter the growing power of China in
winning contracts there.13
Table 1: Turkeys Trade with Africa (1999-2009)

Source: Turkish PM, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade website, http://www.dtm.gov.tr


13

France seeks Turkey as Trade ally in Africa, EU Business, 9 November 2010, http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/france-turkey-china.6v4

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According to the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists


(TUSKON), which is very active in bolstering Turkish-African relations through its
Turkey-Africa business meetings, African countries are mostly demanding furniture, apparels, durable house products, home textiles, processed food, packaging devices, iron-steel, electrical devices, and construction materials. This is
contrast to Turkeys imports from Africa, which consists of oil, raw material, gold
and minerals. To diversify the nature of relations and urge investment in Africa by
Turkish businessmen, Rzanur Meral, the chairman of TUSKON, has frequently
underlined the importance of investing in African countries by pointing out that
there is significant potential in investing, especially in drilling and construction industries. The current nature of the relations is not exhaustive, and the potential of
cooperation is yet to be explored. For example, there are signs that African nations
are interested in Turkeys agricultural expertise. During the Istanbul summit of the
Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Professions
(UACCIAP), President Mohamed Elmasry noted that the causes of Africas current
food crisis were not well understood in many Western nations; but as Turkeys
agriculture sector had experience in raising food under adverse conditions, cooperation utilizing Turkish agricultural expertise could prove invaluable.14
Since 2005, there have been a quite a few prominent meetings between Turkey
and African nations. These meetings have taken place both at the ministerial and
private sector levels and have become so common that arguably, Turkeys historical ties with Africa are being revived.15 However, Turkeys keen interest in
Africa seems to go beyond strengthening only historical ties. Turkey is interested
in bringing Africa to international attention. When President Gl visited Kenya and
Tanzania in February 2009, he pointed out that all but two African countries16 had
supported Turkeys candidacy in 2008 for a two-year, non-permanent seat on the
UN Security Council. Thus, he stated that the Turkish Republic will be the spokesman for Africa at the UN. Such expressions of solidarity have been very frequent
since the 2008 Turkey-Africa Summit, now often making way into the speeches
of Turkish leaders. For example, in a recent statement President Gl once again
made clear that everyone should show an undivided interest in Africa without losing time. [In that sense] Turkey indicates its responsibility towards Africa.17
In general, Turkeys approach to developing trade with African nations seems
to differ from that of a number of nations seeking business opportunities on the
continent, whose overriding interests are Africas oil resources. As a mid-sized
J.C.K. Daly, Turkey courts Africa, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 5 No.183, 23 September 2008.
Abdullah Gl, Turkish foreign policy in the new era Lecture at USAK, 16 December 2009, <http://www.turkishweekly.net/article/338/full-text-of-turkish-president-abdullah-Gul-39-s-lecture-on-39-turkish-foreign-policy-in-the-new-era-39-at-usak.html
16
Reportedly these two countries were South Africa and Mozambique.
17
Abdullah Gl, Turkish foreign policy in the new era Lecture at USAK, 16 December 2009.
14
15

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nation with a developing economy, Turkey carries none of the free market capitalist baggage aimed at securing the best deal at any cost, which Africans so resent.
By concentrating on lower profile development issues such as agriculture, Turkish
initiatives arguably carry the promise of effecting genuine change in the lives of
masses of Africans.18
African Response: Cautious but Receptive
African reactions to Turkeys initiative have so far been a mixture of mild expectation and confusion. Following China and India, the question of why Turkey has
shown what some consider an unexpected interest in the continent still does not
have a clear answer for African partners. Nevertheless, the fact that Turkey does
not have a colonial background in the continent, and has emphasized an equal
partnership, optimism about the future has spread amongst African leaders.19
The lack of interest from Sub-Saharan
Africa to develop relations with Turkey
was very dominant, hindering economic development until recently. This trend
seems to be changing due to Turkeys
increasing economic potential in global
affairs since 2002. Since 1998, Turkey
has shown a keen interest to sign a
Free Trade Agreement with the South
African Custom Union (SACU), but
there has been reluctance especially
from the part of South Africa, the biggest economy of the SACU. Perhaps
as a sign of the recognition of Turkeys
new status, in May 2009 for the first
time the South African Department of
Trade and Industry announced a study
into the potential for a free trade deal
between the SACU and Turkey.20

While the emerging


multidimensional foreign policy
has provided the theoretical
basis of opening to Africa,
increased Turkish involvement
in Africa at political and
economic levels represents a
smooth convergence of both
governmental and business
policies.

In recent years, African business in Turkey has also made serious inroads, especially in the finance sector. For example, the South African Standard Bank has
been active in Turkey since 1999 and bought a Turkish broker dealer in 2002.
J.C.K. Daly, Turkey courts Africa, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 5 Nol.183, 23 September 2008.
Tom Wheeler, Turkeys outreach to Africa, 25 August 2008, http://www.saiia.org.za/diplomatic-pouch/turkeys-outreach-to-africa.html
20
Peter Delonno, Turkey gets on with business - on its own terms, Business Report, 9 June 2009, p. 20, http://www.busrep.co.za/
index.php?fArticleId=5026771
18
19

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However, the major development occurred in 2007, when Standard Bank bought
a majority stake in Turkish investment banking and brokerage firm Dundas nl,
with an initial 67 percent shareholding. With a new name, Standard nl, Standard Bank is expected to substantially develop its business and possibly further
invest in banking services located in Turkey. African exports to Turkey are also on
the rise since 2002, especially from key countries in the continent. The amount of
increase is noteworthy in the case of South Africa, which jumped from 212 million
dollars in 2002 to 1503 million dollars in 2008. A similar jump can also be observed
in the volume of exports from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and others to Turkey.
The change in African side is best illustrated in the defense dimension of TurkeyAfrica relations. Turkey has had a long-time interest in buying the Rooivalk attack
helicopters for the Turkish army. Since the 1990s, Turkey knocked the doors of
South African officials for its request, but was rebuffed by then President Nelson
Mandelas administration, due to the Kurdish issue. Relations were further exacerbated by Mandelas refusal to accept the Atatrk Peace Prize in 1992 and
the imposition of arms embargo on Turkey by South Africa in 1995.21 However,
the countrys policies toward Turkey have changed under Mandelas successor,
Thabo Mbeki. Prime Minister Erdoan made the first visit by a Turkish head of government to South Africa in March 2005, and in August 2008, former South African
Deputy-President Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka was among the 50 heads of state at
the first Turkish-African Summit in Istanbul. Apparently since June 2006, a Turkish bid for Rooivalk was viewed by South African officials with a positive prospect,
as South African Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin announced in a press
conference to promote the Rooivalk that there would be a high level of sharing in
transfer of technology [with Turkey]...that applies to any program we are involved
in with Turkey, not only the Rooivalk.22
Conclusion
Behind much of the lofty political rhetoric about humanitarian aid and economic
development, Turkeys Africa policy is driven by a long-term orientation of Turkey
in international politics and can be understood within this context. Turkey seems
to be following a foreign policy that may eventually lead in diversifying its economic
allies. For example, Turkey is interested in reducing economic dependence on
traditional European and Russian trading partners by efforts such as opening to
Africa. Turkey has understood that the world has changed profoundly and new
allies, strategic calculations and planning are a must in a rapidly shifting global
economy.

21
22

Tom Wheeler, Turkey and South Africa: Development of Relations 1860-2005, SAIIA Report No. 47, 2005, pp. 17-22.
Business Report, 1 June 2006, http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=561&fArticleId=3272460

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Turkeys opening to Africa is a result of both Turkeys domestic transformation


and change in the global political economy. Turkeys domestic transformation has
challenged traditional Turkish partners in the economy and aimed at diversifying
its trade alternatives in line with change in the global political economy power
configuration. Change in the international system leads countries to define their
own interest in a newly emerging system. Turkeys response to such changes has
been to define a multidimensional foreign policy, and develop economic and political relations with not only immediate neighbors, but also with other regions and
continents. Turkeys opening to Africa is part and parcel of this new redefinition of
Turkish foreign policy.
In a broader perspective, while the emerging multidimensional foreign policy has
provided the theoretical basis of opening to Africa, increased Turkish involvement
in Africa at political and economic levels represents a smooth convergence of
both governmental and business policies. It is interesting to note here that after
the global economic crisis in 2009, Turkeys opening to Africa has gained more
importance in terms of opening up new markets as a way to decrease the influence of the global economic meltdown. Turkeys growing involvement in Africa is
likely to continue in the near future, as it now has a solid economic and social base
to support it at home.

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